China has actually built an elevated bus that straddles car traffic

teb_launch2
Xinhua

Traffic jams are a pain, especially in the mornings when all of humanity joins together for a mutual cause – cursing the congested roads with their cars. But given the right circumstances, a bus can hold the high ground and allow passengers to not only move at “lightning speed” over the frustrated drivers, but also become a significantly more ecological means of transportation. Six years ago, Chinese engineers pondered exactly that and came up with a pretty wacky idea: To build a mammoth bus/train hybrid that would straddle the road, carrying hundreds of passengers with cars running underneath it. Long story short, they delivered on their promise and actually managed to build a prototype.

Causing mass excitement back in May 2016 with photos of an odd, elevated bus circulating the internet, China not only proved the “Transit Elevated Bus” is a real thing, but it also had its first test run. As reported by Shanghaiist, it happened in Hebei province’s Qinhuangdao city on Wednesday. Powered up entirely by electricity, “TEB” is designed to handle 300 passengers, coming in at 22 meters in length, 7.8 meters in width (stretching across two lanes) and 4.8 in height. As further observed by Engadget, the vehicle is supposed to reach 40 to 50 km/h, while earlier concepts shown it will be able to carry up to 1,200 passengers with multiple carriages linked together, and travel at 60 km/h. Conceptually similar to a subway, it would cost five time less and take only a year to finish.

As astonishing as it may sound, there is still room for some well-founded doubts. According to the reporters from Engadget, the test run was more of a proof of concept demo rather than a technical test run. No turns, traffic lights or bridges were involved. The vehicle also moved cautiously slow on its disappointingly short 300-meter demo track. It’s also important to note that cars taller than 2 meters will find themselves unable to slip underneath.

Even though the experimental ride was a success, there are still numerous tasks to be fulfilled before it becomes convincing enough. Most importantly, simulating the run with real world traffic conditions. If all goes well, the project should become a reality by the end of the year, The People’s Daily estimates. The TEB could prove to be an excellent transit choice and, should it reach fruition, would make Pac-Man really proud.

Michal Madaras

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